Kitchen incubator project could bring 50 new jobs to Hopewell

HOPEWELL, Va. (WRIC) — A new venture that can make your dream of starting a business a reality is gaining momentum in Hopewell.

Starting a business can be costly, but a downtown building on East Cawson Street might be home to a new hub that helps launch up to 50 new businesses in the city.

“As we are working to revitalize the downtown district here in Hopewell, we are kind of looking for innovative ways to start new businesses,” explained Evan Haufman with Hopewell Downtown Partnership.

The Hopewell Downtown Partnership hopes to use the building to get in on an urban trend.

“We have kind of looked at this model around the state and even around the country with these kind of kitchen incubators and makerspaces and we realize that it could be a really good fit in,” Haufman said.

What was once home to social services staff might soon be a start-up business hub.

“This is just kind of vacant space,” Haufman explained, giving 8News a tour of the building. “It is large, about 14,000 15,000 square feet. We are really thinking of taking all the walls down and opening it up. We would put a bunch of commercial cooking equipment.”

Michael Burnette just got his start-up, Burnette’s Baked Goods, off the ground. He says business is booming.

“We’ve got 27, 28 different pies, other pound cakes,” Burnette said. “So you got Jamaican fruit pineapple coconut and pecan. You’ve got bean pie, sweet potato, coconut lemon chess, and the list goes on and on.”

He says a kitchen incubator would be an even bigger help.

“For expansion and training, if I could get some folks in there I could produce a higher amount than I could here,” Burnette said.

Officials are now testing demand for the incubator, but think it’s an offer that most with dreams of starting a restaurant won’t be able to refuse.

“It could be probably anywhere from  $50 to $100 $250 a month depending on how much you want to use the services, but that fee is much less than what they would pay to rent a space buy all of the equipment,” Haufman said.

Click here to access the Hopewell Feasibility Study Survey for Local Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses.

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