Soup’s on! Hope & Main taking applications

Hope & Main founder Lisa Raiola of Bristol talks about her plans for the old Main Street Schfool. Hope & Main founder Lisa Raiola of Bristol talks about her plans for the old Main Street Schfool.

hopemain_t670_t670It’s almost time to make food your business. 

Hope & Main, Rhode Island’s first food business incubator, is now accepting applications for the inaugural class of its incubator program run out of the old Main Street School. The first deadline is December 17, with selected clients notified on or before March 1, 2014. After that, new members will be admitted on a rolling basis as vacancies become available.

Warren residents can qualify for financial assistance as part of the town’s Microenterprise Loan Program, which will provide loans from $250 to $25,000 to Warren-based small business startups. Fee schedules and amounts. are still being solidified.

“We expect the initial application process to be highly competitive,” said Lisa Raiola, Hope & Main’s founder and president. “Ultimately, we’re looking for ambitious entrepreneurs with a great idea interested in growing a successful food-related company.”

Hope & Main will open next summer. Now under construction, the group broke ground in July. The renovation will feature three shared-use commercial kitchens, more than 6,000 square feet of production space, cold and dry storage, a demonstration kitchen and 2,000-square-foot community room, a year-round town market and more.

The Hope & Main incubator program aims to give food entrepreneurs and early-stage culinary businesses the chance to grow their first two to three years without the cost of equipping their own commercial facilities. To help make that happen, the group will provide kitchens, equipment and storage at below-market rental rates, as well as offer a full slate of business support, including facilities for shipping, receiving, labeling and packaging; a business center for e-commerce and backroom operations; cooperative purchasing options; access to education and training; and a host of other services. Members will also have the chance to consult and collaborate with mentors and industry experts, and to work with the Hope & Main team to polish their business models and to cultivate customer connections and distribution opportunities.

For more information on applying, see www.makefoodyourbusiness.org. To learn more about Warren’s loan program, contact Warren Town Planner Caroline Wells at CWells@townofwarren-ri.gov or call her office at 245-2469.

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