By Kate Bramson
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation on Monday night approved $372,998 in grants toward entrepreneurial startup efforts, including $100,000 to help the nonprofit MassChallenge, Inc., one of the top-ranked business accelerator and competition programs, to locate an operation in Providence.
But on a busy night with a meeting that drew an overflow crowd interested in the unveiling of the state’s new tourism campaign, that vote was just one of many initiatives intended to help Rhode Island’s economy.
The board approved three development projects for up to $12.8 million in Rebuild Rhode Island tax credits: Prospect Heights redevelopment, 560 Prospect St., Pawtucket, up to $3.7 million in credits; Union Trust Company Building, 170 Westminster St., Providence, up to about $3 million in credits; and 78 Fountain St., Providence, up to about $6.1 million in credits.
The corporation awarded $999,400 to seven projects under the state's Mainstreet Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement program, including the largest award possible under the program — $300,000 — to Central Falls for building facade improvements along Dexter Street, a public art installation to conceal overhead wires and free public Wi-Fi within the commercial district.
The other Mainstreet projects that won approval are to help communities put up better signs so visitors can find their commercial districts, repair sidewalks, help sustain infrastructure in historic districts, improve bus-stop shelters and increase safety for pedestrians, replace derelict storefronts, improve traffic patterns and landscaping and improve traffic flow.
The projects that won money: Bristol, $80,000; East Greenwich, $32,400; One Neighborhood Builders in Providence's Olneyville Square, $196,000; Pawtucket, $245,000; The Providence Foundation in downtown Providence, $76,000; and Woonsocket, $70,000.
Three other programs also won money under the state’s Innovation Network Matching Grant program, which will help MassChallenge locate here.
Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor said the Commerce Corporation is helping the four winning entities convene in a program whose goal was to support existing Rhode Island organizations and attract a "national player." Before MassChallenge creates a local initiative, Pryor said the program will analyze the existing programs and determine how it might be most helpful to local entrepreneurs. The other grant winners:
— Social Enterprise Greenhouse, an incubator and accelerator program that helps those working to solve social problems with their business models: $115,000 to expand its space and programming to accommodate health and wellness and food ventures.
— Hope & Main, the state’s first food incubator and accelerator: $107,998 to help build a production kitchen to accommodate up to 24 new food ventures.
— Practico Innovation, an accelerator program for technology entrepreneurs in communities of color: $50,000 to help support four or five new ventures, increase outreach and mentoring and host an annual pitch competition.
Original article can be found here.