LEOMINSTER — In an effort to help local businesses get off the ground and reach customers face-to-face, Leominster is launching a small business incubator in the middle of the city’s downtown.
Dubbed “The Leominster Marketplace,” the program will start on a three-month trial basis beginning Nov. 2, in what is now an empty storefront at 18 Main St.
“The mayor and I have talked about it for a long time,” Economic Development Coordinator Nikki Peters said on Tuesday, standing outside the front of the space.
The idea for the incubator is simple: seven rotating vendors will pay the city a nominal fee in order to secure an approximately 10-square-foot area inside 18 Main St. Spaces will be allotted in shifts, and the fees will vary depending on which shift a vendor is approved for. Eligible vendors need not be based in Leominster, Peters said, but the city will prioritize those who are.
Inside the space will be cafe-style tables, a chalkboard wall, and a small play area for children. That area will be open to the public. Businesses will set up along the sides of the room.
Vendors who rent a space in the Leominster Marketplace will be required to have some type of retail component associated with their business, and they will be tasked with setting up and taking down all of their materials, Peters said. She said that the space, which is being rented using funds accrued from running the city’s START business incubator program, will not be staffed by city workers.
Peters said that woodworkers, visual artists and bakeries were all examples of the types of small businesses the space hopes to attract. However, those selling food items must prepare those food items in a commercial kitchen and must meet all requirements set by food inspector Marco Bangrazi. (There is a commercial kitchen available for rent at Emergency Management, Peters said, for those interested in doing just that.)
The Leominster Marketplace, Peters said, is part of an ongoing effort to revitalize the downtown area and make it more attractive for foot traffic and new businesses. If the program is successful, she said, the city will look into making the Leominster Marketplace a long-term endeavor.
As for the fees, securing a booth space between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. will cost $10 during the week and $25 on Saturdays. Sundays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. will cost $15. The entire space will be available for rent between Monday and Thursday. More price details are available on the Leominster Marketplace website.