News Bites: Senator Reed Visits Hope & Main, RI Hospitality Association Staff News, RI DEM Director Janet Coit Receives Environmental Award

Reed Visits Hope & Main Culinary Incubator, Announces $30 Million Grant Opportunity for Local Food Enterprises

Reed Visits Hope & Main Culinary Incubator, Announces $30 Million Grant Opportunity for Local Food Enterprises

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Reed Visits Hope & Main Culinary Incubator, Announces $30 Million Grant Opportunity for Local Food Enterprises

Food venture center under construction in Warren could help cook up new businesses, jobs, and economic development throughout the region

Today, U.S. Senator Jack Reed joined with local food entrepreneurs, officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Lisa Raiola, the founder of Hope & Main, for a “hard hat” tour and firsthand look at efforts to transform a 100-year-old shuttered school building on Main Street in Warren into the state’s first full-service food business incubator.  During the tour, Reed also announced the availability of $30 million in competitive grants for the newly-expanded Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program (FMLFPP).

“Rhode Island has so many talented chefs, bakers, farmers, fishermen, and more than fifty farmers markets.  This newly expanded grant program is a great opportunity to support local growers, promote Rhode Island made food and produce, and boost our economy.  I applaud USDA for making these funds available and will continue working to help Rhode Islanders compete for these federal resources,” said Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee and a cosponsor of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which played a key role in making these FMLFPP grants possible.  “Rhode Island is already a great culinary destination.  I want to help the state continue building its capacity as a food hub and connect more farmers and food entrepreneurs to the resources they need to grow their businesses.”

USDA will make the competitive grants available through the Agricultural Marketing Services (AMS) Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program.  The funds are designed to help producers better market and promote healthy food access by connecting consumers with local farmers markets.  USDA’s Rural Developments Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program will also provide $48 million in loan guarantees to help expand local food projects nationally.  The Hope & Main construction project was made possible in part by a $2.99 million USDA Rural Development Community Facilities loan.

Set to open its doors later this summer, Hope & Main helps local entrepreneurs jump-start early-stage food businesses with a special focus on supporting the local food system.  During the tour, Senator Reed and Ms. Raiola joined federal officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to meet with food entrepreneurs who are among the first members of the non-profit’s incubator program and discuss the next steps in supporting Rhode Island’s local food infrastructure.

“I commend Lisa Raiola for founding Hope & Main and working so hard to get it off the ground.  This new facility will help local entrepreneurs collaborate, grow their operations, and get technical assistance to cook up exciting new business ventures and turn their ideas and recipes into commercial success,” said Senator Reed.  “Hope & Main is already providing valuable education and business support to Rhode Island food entrepreneurs, and I am excited to see what they’ll cook up next.”

Now in its final months of construction, Hope & Main’s 17,500-square foot multi-kitchen facility will provide commercial cooking and storage space for food entrepreneurs and small businesses that can’t afford the up-front costs of building their own commercial kitchens.  When completed, the renovation will feature three shared-use commercial kitchens, including a gluten-free kitchen and bakery, over 6,000-square-feet of production space, cold and dry storage, a demonstration kitchen and classroom, and a 2,000-square-foot event space.

Hope & Main is now accepting applications and already hosting workshops to help teach prospective food entrepreneurs the recipe for starting a successful food business in Rhode Island, including how to produce, market, finance, and package their products for sale.  Hope & Main is also set to partner with New Urban Farmers on a new, on-site community garden, and plans to host a farmers market.

Food vendors joining Senator Reed for today’s tour included Louby Sukkar and Matt McClelland of The Backyard Food Company and Carol and Matt D’Alessio of Matt’s Magic Brownies.

Senator Reed has been a champion of the “eat local” movement in Rhode Island and has long supported efforts to help boost Rhode Island’s food economy.  He has worked to help bring individuals and organizations from different parts of the state’s food industry together to help the food sector grow and have an even greater economic impact.  In 2004, Reed helped pass the Specialty Crops Competitiveness Act, which authorized the USDA to provide grants to state departments of agriculture for the purposes of enhancing the competitiveness of specialty crops.  Earlier this year the state received over a quarter million dollars to help promote Ocean State agricultural products.  The Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act, which was authored by Senator Sherrod Brown and cosponsored by Reed, seeks to spur job creation by improving federal farm bill programs that support local and regional farm and food systems.  Many of the provisions included in the Farm Bill passed by Congress earlier this year stem from this legislation.

Reed has also cited improving our transportation networks – upgrading the state’s roads, T.F. Green Airport, ports, and rail facilities – as key to growing Rhode Island’s economy and helping the state become an important food hub.

Construction of Hope & Main’s new facilities is expected to be completed later this summer.

Rhode Island organizations interested in additional information about the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program grants and the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program are encouraged to contact Senator Reed’s office.  Over the last several years, farmers markets have sprouted up across the Ocean State and Rhode Island is now home to 55 farmers markets, as well as other direct-to-consumer agriculture operations.  A comprehensive farmers market directory of locations and hours may be found at: http://www.farmfresh.org/food/farmersmarkets.php


RI Hospitality Association New Hire Announcement and Staff Member National Board Appointment

Matthew Bussey

Matthew Bussey

The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is proud to announce that Matthew Bussey of East Greenwich, RI has been appointed as the new Manager of Governmental Affairs.

“We are very pleased to welcome Matthew to the RI Hospitality Association,” said Dale J. Venturini, President and CEO of RIHA. “We believe that his work ethic and legal knowledge will be a tremendous asset to the Association and will greatly benefit our members.”

Bussey brings more than six years of legal experience and expertise to his new role. In his most recent position, Bussey served as an Associate Attorney and later Of – Counsel at Martineau Davis & Associates P.C. in East Greenwich, RI. Prior to joining Martineau Davis & Associates, Bussey served as General Counsel to a small corporation in Tiverton, RI. He is a member of the bar in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as the United States Tax Court.

In Bussey’s new position at RIHA, he will be responsible for evaluating proposed legislation to determine its potential impact on the restaurant and hotel industries and communicating the Association’s position on legislation to legislative and executive branches. He will also educate and inform membership on legislative issues of importance and oversee the Association’s Governmental Affairs Council. He will also be responsible for managing the Association’s Board of Directors.

Bussey graduated in 2008 in the top third of his graduating class at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, RI. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado. Bussey is an IRS certified tax preparer and licensed mediator in Rhode Island.

Heather Singleton

Heather Singleton

The RI Hospitality Association (RIHA) is pleased to announce that Heather Singleton, Sr. Vice President of Education at the RI Hospitality Education Foundation (RIHEF) has been elected to the Certification Governing Board (CGB) of the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF).

“Heather is incredibly deserving of this recognition and we are so pleased that she has been elected to this prestigious national board,” said Dale Venturini, President/CEO of the RIHA and RIHEF. “Her industry experience is invaluable and I know she will be a true asset to this committee.”

Singleton brings more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry to her new role. She has worked at RIHA since 1999 and has served as a RIHEF guide and educator to thousands of hospitality students in Rhode Island for many of those years. “I am honored to be elected to the Certification Governing Board and I look forward to serving as a Rhode Island representative,” said Singleton.

As a member of the CGB, Singleton will be responsible for helping the NRAEF with appeals and decision-making of any escalated incidents that may arise, and ensuring that the rights of properly credentialed businesses are protected. It is a three-year term with the opportunity for re-election.

Originally a native of upstate New York, Singleton earned a BS in International Business from Johnson & Wales University and her MBA from the Alan Shawn Feinstein Graduate School at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island. She currently resides in Providence.


DEM Director Janet Coit Receives Environment Council of Rhode Island’s John H. Chafee Conservation Leadership Award

Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit was presented with the John H. Chafee Conservation Leadership Award from the Environment Council of Rhode Island last night at the organization’s 15th annual Chafee Conservation Celebration.

Honoring the memory of the late Senator and his dedication to protecting and preserving the natural environment, the Environment Council award honors an outstanding individual or organization each year for their dedication and efforts to improve the health of the Rhode Island environment. This year’s award was presented by ECRI President Jamie Rhodes, and John Chafee’s oldest son, Zechariah Chafee.

“The Environment Council of RI is proud to help carry the late Sen. John Chafee’s legacy of conservation into the future. Given the close ties that Director Coit has to that history and the pivotal role she has played in shaping state and national environmental policy, there is no more deserving individual that her to receive the 2014 Chafee Award,” said ECRI President Jamie Rhodes.

“Receiving this award named after one of the nation’s conservation giants, John Chafee, means the absolute world to me,” said Coit. “I am humbled and inspired, and very moved. Thank you, Environment Council of Rhode Island, for providing an event where we come together to support and inspire one another by recognizing John Chafee’s shining example.”

Early in her career, Director Coit served as counsel to the US Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, where she worked on national environmental policy for the late Senator John Chafee who chaired the committee. In 1997, she moved to Rhode Island where she worked as counsel and environmental coordinator in the Providence office of the late senator, and subsequently for then Senator Lincoln Chafee. From 2001 to 2011, Coit worked at The Nature Conservancy, where she led the Rhode Island Chapter.

Director Coit presented the keynote address at Thursday’s Environment Council of Rhode Island event and spoke about her experiences working for Senator John Chafee.

“Those of us privileged to work for and with John Chafee think often of what we learned from him, and know we are better people because we had him as a mentor and role model,” she said. “And, when it comes to conservation and protection of our environment – he was truly heroic, and his deeds and good works continue to shape our lands, safeguard are waters and improve the quality of life in Rhode Island and far beyond.”

During her remarks to the 100 environmental and community leaders attending the awards program, Director Coit said, “The lessons I learned from John Chafee influence me every day. I often think of him specifically, and remember his courage in the face of defeats and loss, his delight in nature, and his optimism as he tackled a new challenge with vision and verve.”

Coit told the crowd that this week marked the 50th anniversary of the landmark Green Acres Act, approved by the General Assembly on May 5, 1964. She spoke of how the then Governor pressed for the enactment of this pivotal legislation that led to the establishment of Colt Park, East Matunuck Beach, Snake Den and J.L. Curran Management Areas, and many other parks and refuges across the state. Director Coit read from one of John Chafee’s speeches from 1964 where he spoke of being “in the fight to preserve some parts of our lands in their natural beauty, in their primitive ruggedness.”

Director Coit is dedicated to preserving the quality of our environment and protecting the natural systems critical to the health, safety and well-being of Rhode Islanders as she leads the Department of Environmental Management. The Department is currently supporting a $75 million Clean Water, Open Space and Healthy Communities bond recommended by Governor Lincoln Chafee and currently before the General Assembly as part of the budget. “Rhode Islanders have overwhelmingly approved these bond measures,” said Coit. “This public investment preserves our drinking water quality and supports our tourism, farm and fishing economy,” said Coit. “There is more work ahead.”

“What we do here matters desperately to Rhode Island and the world,” she said. “And, it is heartening and important to celebrate our successes and recognize the important work by people and organizations united in our desire to conserve and safeguard our natural resources, to give nature a chance, and to take on tough challenges so that our children’s children will inherit a healthy and vibrant Rhode Island.”

The Environment Council of Rhode Island (ECRI) is a coalition of over 60 Rhode Island organizations as well as individuals whose mission is to serve as an effective voice for developing and advocating policies and laws that protect and enhance the environment.

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