Hope and Main group plans incubator bids


Things may seem quiet at the Main Street School, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes with the Hope & Main incubator, seven weeks after Warren residents approved the sale of the old school to the Bristol-based group.

"There's quite a lot going on," said Lisa Raiola, who founded Hope & Main and hopes to open her kitchen incubator, the first in the state, by later next year. "We've been very busy."

Town residents' approval of the $125,000 sale — first at a special Financial Town Meeting, later at an all day-referendum on the matter — gave Ms. Raiola and her board the ability to close on a $3 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture. The low-interest loan is the incubator's main funding source, and Ms. Raiola said it will help pay for everything from the building's purchase price to engineering fees, construction and equipping the facility.

Before they close on the loan, though, officials need to put together "biddable drawings"; that is, drawings detailed enough to be able to put various parts of the project out to bid, from kitchen equipment to plumbing and HVAC, to an elevator.

Those are the first step in receiving the loan, she said, because "we need to demonstrate to the USDA that we can do it (complete the project) with $3 million."

She and her board members hope to have that squared away by March, she said, with the work commencing shortly afterwards, she hopes.

As for "incubees," as those who will ultimately use the kitchen are known, Hope & Main's board of dirrectors is creating an application stating the specific requirements that hopefuls need to use the facility. They're also finalizing the fee schedule, though she has said before that the likely cost would be in the range of $22 per hour for full use of the incubator.

One plus for Warren residents is the avialability of micro-enterprise zero-interest loans up to $2,500. Those loans were made possible by a Community Development Block (CDBG) grant.

Hope & Main


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