Lisa Raiola: 18 Who Made a Difference in 2018

Friday, December 28, 2018


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Lisa Raiola, PHOTO: LinkedIn

Lisa Raiola — the chief architect and founder of Hope & Main has created the training ground and launching pad for what seems to be an endless string of cool new food businesses.

The most recent class at Hope & Main, RI’s food industry incubator, had more than 40 new businesses.

Recently, Hope & Main was the conduit to a federal grant award of a $178,000 USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program to increase access to locally produced food in Rhode Island.

Is Rhode Island is the foodie state, then Hope & Main is the industrial backbone.

Food & Wine wrote in 2018, "She didn’t set out to revolutionize Rhode Island’s food and beverage industry. Rather, by 2009—when Raiola had rehabbed enough [fighting uterine cancer] to enter remission and was ready to start her imagined meal-delivery business—she stumbled on prime real estate: an 18,000-square-foot former schoolhouse where Main Street in Warren, Rhode Island, meets Hope Street.

'I looked around and I said, ‘I bet there are a lot of people like me who might want to start a food business, but who don’t have the money and don’t have the code-compliant kitchen to do it,' Raiola recalls. And so, the idea for the food incubator—a combination of kitchens and classrooms, where startups could cook and learn to market themselves—was born."

Raiola who has a day job at Roger Williams University has created a new business infrastructure into Rhode Island’s economy. It will be exciting to watch these new companies — ranging from chocolatiers to food trucks to apps —  take hold to succeed and, even some will fail.  It is all part of creating a new sector in the RI economy.

Raiola making a positive change in RI.


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