Hope & Main, LLC will transform the former Main Street School building into a $3.2 million state-of-the-art workspace for food-based entrepreneurs
WARREN, R.I., July 26, 2013 – Hope & Main today officially broke ground on plans to transform the former Main Street School building in Warren into Rhode Island’s first full-service culinary business incubator. U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse spoke at the ceremony, as well as other honored guests including State Director for USDA Rural Development Jonathan “Jay” L. Healy, Warren Town Council President Christopher W. Stanley, Owner of The Sunnyside Restaurant Chef Joe Simone, and Founder and President of Hope & Main, LLC, Lisa Raiola, MPH.
“Rhode Island has so many talented chefs, bakers, farmers and fishermen, and this new commercial-grade kitchen could help them cook up exciting new business ventures. I am pleased to have helped secure federal resources to support this effort,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. “I commend Lisa Raiola for cultivating this idea and seeing it through to fruition. This facility will help local entrepreneurs grow their operations and get technical assistance to turn their ideas and recipes into commercial success.”
Located at 691 Main Street in Warren, R.I., the 17,500-square-foot space will feature state-of-the-art workspace for food-related entrepreneurs and businesses. The renovation will include the installation of three code-compliant, shared-use commercial kitchens, including a gluten-free kitchen, over 6,000-square-feet of production space, cold and dry storage, and a range of commercial equipment to support small-scale operations for baking, food processing and catering. The rehab will also feature a demonstration kitchen and classroom for education and training related to food preparation, cooking and nutrition, and a 2,000-square-foot community room for events and seminars. A year-round town market will be located on the grounds to allow member companies and food producers, as well as local farmers and fishermen, direct access to local consumers.
The Hope & Main project is funded in large part by a $3 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities Loan. Hope & Main purchased the building from the Town of Warren for $125,000 in June 2013 after a nearly three-year effort to secure funding for the incubator project and an investment of over $200,000 in private funds.
"We here at USDA Rural Development are very pleased to be part of a project that will not only increase the profitability of farms and rural businesses by adding more value to their products, but will also help to strengthen our Rhode Island economy and add more local jobs,” said Jay Healy, state director for USDA Rural Development. “This project will serve as a food hub, bringing great products directly to local customers. We plan to continue to work with Hope & Main as they develop into a sustainable, successful and profitable food-based business incubator."
TRAC Builders was selected to lead construction of the project in July 2013. Headed by Bill Tracey, the award-winning general contracting and construction management firm is known for its work in the food industry, most notably the Wildflour Vegan Bakery in Pawtucket and Local 121 restaurant in Providence. TRAC has also completed a number of projects for community organizations across New England including Lifespan, Crossroads of Rhode Island, Brown University and the Olneyville Housing Corporation. Greg Spiess, AIA, of Barrington, R.I., is lead architect and Eric Busch of Rustpoint Advisory, LLC, in East Greenwich, R.I., has acted as a consultant to the project since 2009.
Bill Tracey, CEO TRAC with Lisa Raiola, ED Hope & Main
Hope & Main will support its member companies with technical assistance and a clearinghouse of resources to support small food businesses; facilities for shipping, receiving, labeling and packaging; a business center for e-commerce, marketing and backroom operations; collective procurement options; distribution assistance and the ability to identify a product’s provenance to the consumer as “Made at Hope & Main”; access to mentors and experts; and a host of other support services.
The organization will begin accepting formal applications for membership in September 2013 with plans to announce its inaugural members in January 2014. Hope & Main will open for operation in spring 2014.
"Today's groundbreaking is an overwhelming milestone for the people of Warren, the East Bay and all of Rhode Island,” said Chef Joe Simone, owner of The Sunnyside Restaurant in Warren, R.I. and vice chair of the board of directors at Hope & Main. “As a local business owner, I celebrate the spirit and uniqueness of the town of Warren and I am looking forward to Hope & Main's contribution to our thriving food culture and community."
Hope & Main, LLC, is a new Rhode Island-based nonprofit created to support the local food system and to strengthen the region’s food economy. The organization will provide low-cost, low-risk access to full-service kitchens and other technical resources to community-based entrepreneurs enabling them to jump-start early stage food companies and food-related businesses. Hope & Main will focus on creating an economically self-sustaining enterprise that will act as a foundation for economic development and education for decades to come.