Warren readies for Hope & Main vote


There's less than a week to go until the vote, and supporters of the Hope & Main kitchen incubator are trying to rally support for their cause in advance of a special Financial Town Meeting planned for 7p.m. Monday, Oct. 15, at Warren Town Hall.

At the meeting, voters will be asked to approve the sale of the Main Street School to the kitchen incubator outfit for $125,000, a move crucial to plans to turn the old brick building into a workshop that will turn out entrepreneurs as much as food. The incubator would be the state's first, and is being made possible by a $3 million loan from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Hope & Main's founder, Lisa Raiola, believes the incubator has the potential to provide hundreds of direct and indirect jobs to Warren, and she also sees the effort as part of a larger movement to support local food growers and producers, who until now have received little support in Rhode Island.

Ms. Raiola will host an open house at the Main Street School this Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7 to 9 p.m., and all are invited to attend. The open house is being held to help give answers about the project, which depends on two things to pass next Monday's financial town meeting: First, a quorum of 125 people needs to attend; secondly, a majority of those voters need to approve the sale for it to become official.

According to the town clerk's office, the meeting will start promptly at 7 p.m., and officials will keep the doors open until 7:30 p.m. as voters file in. At 7:30, the number of voters will be counted; if a quorum of 125 is reached, the vote will commence. If fewer than 125 show up, it will fail.

Though she is hopeful that residents will support the sale, Ms. Raiola said her main focus this week will also be on telling "anybody who will listen" about the meeting; given low turnout at previous financial town meetings, she said, it behooves her and Hope & Main's supporters to get the word out as much as possible about the meeting. Through placards left at local businesses, signs and a Facebook campaign, Ms. Raiola said she is working hard to get as many people on board; town council members and the town planner have already come out in support of Hope & Main.

"This has so much potential," she said during a recent tour of the building. "All it needs is support."


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