by Ann Clanton, “Speak-Up” contributing writer

Photo: Carmen Diaz, Biz Bodega

Innovation Studio Inc. and One Neighborhood gathered to launch BIZ BODEGA, a business center promoting innovation, entrepreneurship and fostering new businesses within the Central Providence community.

On Tuesday, April 5, BIZ BODEGA opened at 222 Manton Avenue  in Providence.   Sixty Hispanic and Black small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs gathered to hear welcome remarks from City of Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza,  Elizabeth Tanner, Director of Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation. new and aspiring entrepreneurs and existing small business owners throughout the Central Providence community.

Moderated by Martha Perez-Barton, Rhode Island Hispanic Chamber of Commerce  an intimate with Innovation Studio President, Dan Vidana, Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director ONE Neighborhood Builders and Lexus Fernandez, Co-Founder Soulita

“Our vision for the central Providence community’s aspiring entrepreneurs is for BIZ BODEGA to effectively direct resources to your dreams as a business owner and to improve quality of life for the small business owners of Central Providence.” said Jennifer Hopkins, Executive Director of One Neighborhood Builders.

Biz Bodega is a resource center and public space designed to be a one-stop shop that provides access to a range of resources and services to the entrepreneurial community through a community-centered space where anyone can access the knowledge, tools and skills to achieve their business goals. From turning an idea into a business, to getting financial access to boost your business, Biz Bodega specialists can help.

Led by Amy Erickson, Rhode Island Program Director, and Walther Morales, Director of Entrepreneurship, Biz Bodega collaborates with several organizations that provide important services to the business community. Together, they provide access to experts, entrepreneurship courses, small business training, events and other services.

“We are excited to reach out to the community and collaborate with local small businesses to help launch this new project. We look forward to working with partner organizations as well as institutions that are interested in supporting local entrepreneurs and small business owners,” said Amy Erickson.

“ONE Neighborhood Builders is extremely pleased to help make the opening of Biz Bodega at 222 Manton a reality,” said Jennifer Hawkins, Executive Director of ONE Neighborhood Builders.

ONE Neighborhood Builders (ONE|NB) is a nonprofit community development leader in Rhode Island that is expanding its work to the broader Greater Providence area while maintaining its deep roots in its historic home of Olneyville. ONE|NB’s mission is to develop affordable housing and engage neighbors to cultivate healthy, vibrant, and safe communities. Since its founding in 1988, then as Olneyville Housing Corporation, ONE|NB has developed 596 affordable homes, as well as more than 35,000 square feet of commercial and community space, providing amenities and job opportunities, totaling $134 million in investments.

The Biz Bodega is open Tuesday – Friday from 10 am-5 pm and Saturday from 10 am-2 pm. Community members are welcome to stop in and use the newly designed workspace or meet with Business Specialist Cynthia Munrayos. Services are currently available in English and Spanish. Please visit to learn more or pre-schedule a 1-2-1 business support consultation today.


Ann-Allison Clanton was born and raised in Providence, Rhode Island. As principal of Ann Clanton Communications, Ann has more than two decades of experience as a communications and public affairs consultant. She has written features and profiles articles for the Providence American Newspaper and Ethnic Online Magazine.

Among the notable persons interviewed include former U. S. Ambassador Andrew Young, Dr. Cornell West, former Florida Congressman Allen West (R-FL) and Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus first African American Ringmaster, Johnathan Lee Iverson.

Ann is the founder of the Rhode Island Black Film Festival and a founding member of the Southern New England Association of Black Journalists.

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