COEUR d’ALENE — Innovation Collective founder Nick Smoot has taken a leave of absence and Chief Operating Officer Chris Cochran is now the organization’s interim executive director.
Cochran announced the temporary change in an email Monday afternoon, saying key parties met over the weekend to chart a course.
Smoot was arrested July 5 on a misdemeanor charge of domestic battery. In 2015, Smoot was charged with misdemeanor domestic violence without traumatic injury, although those charges were later dismissed by prosecutors.
“Obviously we’re saddened and shocked by this,” Cochran told The Press on Monday.
But he also said Innovation Collective’s momentum will continue forward.
“As I walk through I’m not seeing a lot of sad faces,” he said, “but a lot of people are obviously concerned for Nick and his family. We’re cautiously optimistic but also saddened by this.”
Cochran said expansion of the Innovation Den in downtown Coeur d’Alene won’t be affected by the temporary change of leadership of Innovation Collective.
The Innovation Den addition — located directly across from the current building at 418 E. Lakeside Ave. — will feature a 1,200-square-foot master suite, eight office spaces, two conference rooms and two common spaces. It’s expected to open Aug. 1.
Cochran has worked with Smoot and Innovation Collective since shortly after its official launch in 2014, he said. He’s been involved each of the past three years in the Think Big Festival, an internationally recognized and attended robotics and AI conference in Coeur d’Alene. This year’s Think Big Festival is scheduled Aug. 24-25. Cochran has been Innovation Collective’s COO for the past two years after working in the nonprofit sector, then shifting to executive IT and infrastructure consulting.
He emphasized that all of the Innovation Collective’s scheduled projects and events will go on as planned.