The quest to establish Hope & Main, Rhode Island’s first food business incubator, began in 2009.
Hope & Main transformed a 100 year-old elementary school on Main Street in Warren with the assistance of a USDA Rural Development Loan. In 2015, the project was recognized by Grow Smart RI as an “OutstandingSmart Growth Project” for converting this shuttered downtown property into a vibrant engine of economic growth for the State’s rapidly emerging food sector. Hear about the project first hand from founder, Lisa Riaola who envisioned a facility that would assist local entrepreneurs in jump-starting early-stage food companies by providing low cost, low risk access to shared-use commercial kitchens and other industry-specific technical resources. Today Hope & Main helps to grow the local food economy by creating a community of support for food entrepreneurs and cultivating an environment where emerging culinary startups can test, create, scale and thrive. In its first 20 months of operation, Hope & Main has launched more than 60 businesses; created 80+jobs; and poured nearly $2 million into the Rhode Island economy. Hear from two vendors at Hope & Main: Bootblack Brand and Anchor Toffee and how they branded and their company names and identity to stand out in a competitive food market. Tour the marketplace and community garden to sample and have the opportunity to purchase some of the many products and produce cultivated and crafted in Rhode Island.
Lisa has more than 30 years of experience in program development and advancement at non-profit organizations in healthcare and higher education with a special focus on distributive justice, social responsibility and economic development. Currently she is the VP for Advancement at Roger Williams University. Previously, Lisa was a Clinical Assistant Professor for Community Health and Medical Ethics at the Brown University School of Medicine where she developed and instructed courses in public health research; health promotion and disease prevention; food security and food justice; healthcare financing and system reform; and health disparity and the burden of disease.
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