Berryville Main Street (BMS) wants to help grow small businesses in the downtown area by developing an incubator to help them get started. The not for profit organization is part of a nationwide initiative created by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to encourage growth and revitalization of small towns across the United States. Last year the organization undertook a major adaptive reuse project that transformed the town’s former fire house into a new retail destination, The Fire House Gallery and Shop. The proposed small business incubator would occupy two suites on the second floor of that building, which is owned by the Town of Berryville. At last night’s council meeting the idea was presented for consideration.
The operational concept would provide space to start-ups for a short period of time allowing them to get established after which they would move to a permanent location and vacate the space. It is hoped that the rental of these spaces would also provide some income for BMS. While the details as to the duration of use for each start-up and the types of businesses that would be best suited have not been finalized, the Town Council reviewed the idea and discussed the concept.
Councilman Allen Kitselman told other council members that the idea was addressed at the Community Improvement Committee meeting and had its endorsement. Councilman David Tollet commented that it was important to retain control of the build out of the space because it remains a town property.
Town Manager Keith Dalton said, “The lease would require some minor modifications. When we developed the initial lease it was just for the first floor. The current lease would have to be amended to address use of the second floor, use of the entire parking lot, rent, utility split, and other items.”
After discussing the matter the council unanimously supported the idea. The next step in the process entails a public hearing on the matter, which has been scheduled for the next Town Council meeting on March 8th.